The struggling Minnesota Vikings came to Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon in hopes of spoiling the Green Bay Packers’ season. As expected the boo birds were out for the return of Greg Jennings to Green Bay. The game ended with a 26-26 tie after both teams traded field goals in overtime.
Xavier Rhodes played well in the game with four tackles and a nice play in the end zone to break up the back shoulder throw to James Jones. Late in the second quarter he made another great play getting a hand on a perfectly thrown ball to James Jones followed by another pass knockdown on the next play. He left the game early with an injury and Marcus Sherels replaced him. Another guy who looked good on defense was Audie Cole with 11 total tackles and a sack.
Early in the second quarter the Vikings were able to stop the Packers because of a Brian Robison sack and a stop on 3rd down. With the sack Robison now matches Jared Allen for the team lead with 5 sacks this season.
Following the stop, a healthy dose of Adrian Peterson, a near interception by Ponder, and more Adrian Peterson led to an AP fumble after a short reception over the middle. The fumble was caused by a missed facemask call. It seemed like the Vikings offense couldn’t catch a break this season. When Ponder starts to move the chains and AP gets the right amount of carries, inevitably something happens to end the drive with no points.
The defense stepped up to stop the Packers who started with good field position after the fumble. As you expected, two stops in a row and minimal points to show for it.
During the next offensive drive for Minnesota which started on their own 1-yard line Adrian Peterson searched for a hole and exploded through for a 22-yard gain, then on third down with Peterson picking up the blitz Ponder threw a perfect deep ball to Jerome Simpson for 31 yards. Followed by a 47-yard field goal by Blair Walsh.
On the next Vikings drive Ponder steps up and makes a perfect throw to Jerome Simpson who makes a spectacular catch after getting an illegal contact call to boot. After the 23-yard gain Chase Ford made a great 20-yard catch in traffic on the 2-yard line followed by an AP touchdown.
The first half by Christian Ponder was fantastic, 11-14 with 127 yards. The most important stat of Ponder’s 1st half, zero interceptions and a 13-7 lead.
In the 2nd half, Ponder moved around well in the pocket extending drives. The Vikings added to the lead 20-7 with a 12-yard pass out of the back field to Rhett Ellison.
Then the Vikings defense once again blew a lead in the 4th quarter. Up 23-7 and the defense let the Packers offense drive down the field twice to close the gap to 23-20. The Vikings got the ball with just over three minutes left in the ball game and with two straight negative plays they were forced to punt. The Packers get the ball just before the two minute warning with most of the field to gain. The Packers, with a 4th-and-6 and the game on the line got a free play on a Minnesota offside penalty and Flynn hit James Jones with a 28-yard pass to the Vikings 12-yard line. After the Vikings stop the Packers close to the goal line and Mason Crosby hits a 27-yard field goal to tie the game. The Vikings with only 20 total yards in the 4th quarter get the ball back for one more possession and have nothing to show for it.
In overtime, the defense stepped up until 3rd down when Jared Allen sacked Flynn, but the defense gave up a first down after Robert Blanton was called for defensive holding. After the Vikings stop the Packers short of the goal line the Packers get a 20-yard field goal by Crosby. The Vikings got the ball back with a chance to tie or win the ball game.
The Vikings ran the ball down the Packers throat knocking on the door. They get a 35-yard Walsh field goal to tie it up again with 3:49 left in OT. The Vikings defense stepped up to stop the Packers giving the ball back on the Vikings 38-yard line. With no avail they punt it away to Green Bay with 1:59 left. Packers get ball on their own 10-yard line. Nothing comes of the possession and the game results in the tie as time expires in overtime.
The offensive line looked fantastic today. They were getting a push all day, giving the team 232 yards rushing and Ponder the most time in the pocket he’s had this season. It was great to see the whole offense playing their best. I believed before this game the offensive line struggles was one of the biggest reasons for the down season for Ponder and Peterson. We were able to see what the team can look like with a steady offensive line.
The Vikings defense choked in the fourth quarter as usual, giving the packers 16 points. The lead almost seemed to good to be true, before it dwindled away.
May I say it once and for all? Toby Gerhart can start for any NFL team. In today’s game he carried the ball eight times for 91 yards, many of those yards came in overtime.
Christian Ponder, 21-30 233 yards & 1 TD
Adrian Peterson, 32 rushes, 146 yards, 1 TD
Greg Jennings, 2 catches, 29 yards